Earlier today I read a friend’s blog that mentioned struggling with “Cyber Envy.” You know, when you see people’s facebook statuses, tweets or instagram photos and start to feel a little jealous of their lives? I’m sure we’ve all experienced it one time or another when we so easily forget that people only post the best parts of their lives online. Let’s be honest: who is going to put a facebook status that says, “ugh I feel so ugly and depressed today” or “My husband and I are currently in a huge fight today. He really sucks right now.”? I mean, I may or may not have cropped out most of my arm in post baby pictures on facebook. May or may not have. I’ll never tell my secrets ;-). But who is going to post pictures of themselves when they first wake up in the morning, when they’re doing monotonous chores around the house or while they’re at work? People post pictures of vacations and fun events. So you look at their Facebook page or Twitter or whatever, and all you see is beauty, fun, games, and humor. It’s hard to recognize the fact that what we are cyber envious of is exactly that- “cyber.” It’s not real. We’re not seeing whole people through online networks so we’re coveting lives that are not reality.
All of this made me think about a sermon our Pastor gave several weeks ago from John 21:18-2 titled, “What is that to You?” I’ve been thinking about it ever since. (If you’re interested, you can find the sermon here.) In this passage in the gospel of John, Jesus basically tells Peter how he is going to die. Peter responds by asking about what the deal is with John (the “disciple Jesus loved”) and what was going to happen to him. You know, playing the comparison game. Jesus responds to Peter, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?” Dang, Jesus! Guess he put Peter in his place. But as William (our Pastor) pointed out, don’t we do this all the time? “Why does she get to be engaged, but I’m still single?” “Why are they able to have a baby, when we’ve been unable to conceive?” “Why was he recognized for his hard work, when I work way harder?” “Why was she able to get my dream job, while I’m working one I hate just to make ends meet?” “Why are they able to buy a house as newly weds, but we still can’t afford to even as we’re starting a family?” “Why was she able to lose the baby weight so fast, while I’m still sporting mine?” <– These last 2 are the ones I typically struggle with. The list can go on and on. And it’s not that these things are not legitimately hard or that God doesn’t have compassion on us. But we’re always looking at someone else and wondering why they’ve been given the blessings they have and measuring our lives beside them. How does Jesus respond to that? “What is that to you?” Each of our lives, circumstances and blessings are a unique part of our story that God is writing. He is the author. He decides what blessings to give us, and He is purposeful and intentional in it. There are specific things for each one of us that God wants to show us, teach us, and gift us with. We need not worry about what He is teaching someone else or doing in their lives.
Recent example: If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I have struggled in the past couple of months with my post-baby weight. If you don’t keep up with my blog, well I struggle with my post-baby weight. Thankfully I am in a much better place with it now (meaning in my perspective of it. I still haven’t lost it), but I was constantly finding myself asking God, “why was she able to just take the weight off, and I haven’t?” I would even sometimes exclaim, “it’s not fair!” (as if I have any right to tell God what’s fair and what isn’t…) Well a couple of weeks ago I was hanging out with a friend who lost all her baby weight before her son was even 4 months old. Her doctor had put her on a very strict diet for health reasons for her baby, so it came off pretty quickly. But she was telling me about how she used to struggle with an eating disorder, but has been clear of it for several years now. She told me, “I don’t know where I would be with post-baby weight right now if it weren’t for that diet my doctor put me on, but I really think it was God’s grace that took the weight off for me.” It was then that I realized the truth behind the words of the sermon. For this specific friend, God helped her take the weight off fast, as a beautiful gift of grace, probably saving her from having some of her eating disorder struggles come back to tempt her. That’s her story with God. He is doing specific things in her life. But for me, there
were are some deeper heart issues that God wanted to deal with (vanity and competing with other women to name a couple– you can read about it here) so He’s kept the weight on in order to bring them to the surface.
So today if you find yourself struggling with “Cyber Envy,” or just envy in general, think of Jesus saying, “What is that to you?” Perhaps it will bring a little smile to your face. Remember that God created you to be who you are, look how you do, and He has given you many blessings and is intentional with what He wants to show you, teach you, and do in your life.
I’ll close with a quote I saw on a friend’s facebook status today: “When I realize that it is not God who is in my debt but I who am in His great debt, doesn’t it ALL become gift?”- Ann Voskamp